Houllier - No Pires problem
Gerard Houllier insists there is no friction between him and Robert Pires, despite the Frenchman's outburst.
Last Updated: 10/01/11 9:54am
Gerard Houllier insists there is no friction between himself and Robert Pires, despite the Frenchman's recent outburst.
Pires, who was snapped up by Aston Villa as a free agent in November, spoke out last week on his lack of game time since returning to England.
The former Arsenal man was thrown into action almost immediately by Houllier but, having struggled to produce his best, has slipped down the pecking order of late.
The 37-year-old playmaker is unhappy at having tumbled out of contention and has also expressed fears at Villa's faltering form in the Premier League.
Houllier claims to have no problem with his players speaking their mind, while he also admits that he probably asked for too much, too soon from Pires, with the World Cup winner having gone seven months without a game prior to linking up with Villa.
He said: "I think it (what he said) was taken out of context. He came to see me on Friday night. He said on the radio that he was happy not to play.
"I said 'it's a good job that you are happy not to play because if a player is happy not to play, he doesn't deserve to be on the bench'.
"In fairness when he came here, I probably played him a bit too early.
"I admit that because it took him about three or four weeks to step up. Now he is getting better."
Houllier added: "Robert admitted as well that the pace and physicality of the game has gone up. He's got to put up with that.
"He has been better in training and we will need him sometimes to keep the ball."